“We’re not changing anything. Offensively, we're doing the same thing. Defensively, we're doing the same thing. We're coaching the same way. We're coaching hard. We expect a lot out of them. It's going to take them to step up and to grasp it and show that leadership and bring everybody else along.”
- Matt Johnson, Beulah head coach
In 2018, the Beulah Bobcats had their best season in over two decades. Now, the mission is to make that the norm rather than the exception.
The mission to repeat the high points of last season offensively will rest heavily on senior running back Chris Person. Person was as tough a runner as there was in the area, and his ability to tote the rock through traffic and leave defenders hanging on for dear life will be much needed on a team that graduated several skill players, including quarterback Lonzie Portis.
New head coach Matt Johnson — who was previously the team’s offensive coordinator — makes no bones about Person’s ability.
“He is the hardest runner I've ever seen,” Johnson said. “He doesn't have all the tangibles that other backs have, but he's just a hard worker. I don't know how many yards he had after the first contact, but the majority of his yards came after first contact.
“That means you don't have to block everybody if you know a guy can run through some people.”
Person will be the lead back, with Qua Moreland and T.J. Washington also helping shoulder the load.
Person has established himself for Beulah, which is now the mission of new quarterback Kaleb Abney. The rising junior played at times last season, and his throwing ability has Johnson thinking the offense will feature more play-action passes than they did last fall.
Johnson anticipates Andruw Coxwell, Dashawn Jones, Okhari Moore standing out as vertical threats for Abney to target.
Up front, Johnson sees Jaden Buffington, Quinton Hale, Austin Billingsley, Chris Warren and Trevor Mapp as guys the Bobcats can count on.
Johnson sees Beulah’s strength defensively being in the secondary with returning starters Jones, Quay Johnson and Dylan Coleman coming back with even more experience. Coxwell, Moore, Makell Patrick and Billy Wayne Sykes also figure to play significant roles among the defensive backs.
Quay Johnson, a rising senior who also plays receiver, saw last year’s seniors lead the way in helping the Bobcats return to the playoffs. Now, it’s his mission to make sure this year’s team keeps things trending upward.
“We've been playing with those seniors (from last year) since like the seventh grade,” Quay Johnson said. “We kind of had that mind, and we just leaned on what they started. They started something big, so we're just trying to keep it going.”
The Bobcats are still teaching some younger players what it takes to play at linebacker, a spot vacated by some of last year’s heroes like Caden Dowdell. Up front, Matt Johnson is looking to play several offensive linemen on the defensive line not only out of necessity but to also build toughness among the group.
Matt Johnson’s biggest concern going forward is building depth outside the first string to allow players to stay fresh and also to keep things moving smoothly in the event of an injury.